The Oklahoma City Thunder has seen the last of Russell Westbrook, but Tulsa will continue to be the site of comedy shows presented by the NBA star, according to longtime friend and comedian Demetrius “Juice” Deason.
Deason hosted a Layups2standup comedy show Thursday night at Cain’s Ballroom. The event had been planned for months and — how’s this for timing? — it was learned just before show time that Westbrook had been traded to the Houston Rockets.
Westbrook went on stage at the start of the show and at the end of the show to make introductory and closing comments, but did not make mention of the trade. He thanked attendees of the sold-out show for coming out to support Deason and a great cause (Tyler Lockett’s Light It Up Foundation) and he thanked Tulsa for support, period.
Deason took the microphone for parting words and, among other things, said, “Obviously we know Russ is going to Houston.”
People in the crowd cheered in a way that suggested they were glad for the ex-Thunder guard.
“But this show is going to be here every year.”
And the crowd cheered again.
Deason performed at the start of the show and welcomed five additional comedians (Alexis Miranda, Velly Vel, Yasamin Bayatfar, Lance Woods and Ron Taylor) to the stage during the course of a show that lasted almost two hours.
Westbrook was scheduled to speak to the media before the event, but did a U-turn after walking toward the red carpet area and seeing a mass of potential interviewers.
The first person to make reference to Westbrook’s address change while on stage was Woods, who said, “We all know Russ is going to go somewhere else and we are happy for him.”
Many attendees stood and applauded. Westbrook stood and acknowledged them.
Just prior, Woods told a joke that involved Westbrook’s former Thunder teammate, Kevin Durant. He said he was talking to Westbrook and Durant years ago when Westbrook asked “when is your next show?” Woods responded by saying he will be in the Bay Area soon. “And KD said, ‘Me Too.’”
The joke generated a mix of good-natured jeers and applause.
Taylor was the final performer and also made mention of the trade.
“I wanted him,” he said. “I’m from Detroit. I wanted to get him. I offered two pit bull puppies and a house.”
Taylor, at the end of his set, urged attendees to get on their feet and make some noise for Westbrook, which the did. “Thank you, Russ” shouted someone in the crowd.
Westbrook has been holding annual basketball camps in Tulsa. The comedy show was meant to be a continued outreach in Tulsa. Deason visited schools and local organizations in advance of the show. He said the first place he wanted to go when visiting was north Tulsa.
“When I talk to those kids, I feel like I’m talking to myself,” he said. “That’s why I love going to those type schools.”
On a night of many jokes, he turned serious when the subject was giving back to youths.
“You impact one kid it will go so far,” he said. “I had one person impact me and it has changed my life.”